Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain and DHL Stormers skipper Siya Kolisi will resume his leadership duties in the national team colours on Saturday for the first time since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup after being named alongside Springbok team-mate Lukhanyo Am as the captains of the Green and Gold teams for the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown.
*Please note that due to strict COVID-19 regulations, no spectators will be allowed inside the stadium on Saturday – that includes general seating and in the suites.
The Green team is coached by Mzwandile Stick, with SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus serving as the team commissioner, while Deon Davids is the Gold team coach and Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber the team commissioner.
The experienced Springbok duo will lead two teams featuring the best of the best in South Africa; Rugby World Cup winners, seasoned internationals and rising stars determined to showcase their skills with an eye on making a step up to national level.
Kolisi is joined by fellow DHL Stormers forwards JD Schickerling and Bongi Mbonambi in the Green team’s starting line-up, while Kwenzo Blose, Juarno Augustus and Kade Wolhuter are among the replacements.
The Gold team features DHL Stormers Warrick Gelant, Rikus Pretorius, Damian Willemse, Herschel Jantjies, Salmaan Moerat, Scarra Ntubeni and Steven Kitshoff in the starting team, making it 13 DHL Stormers in total between the two sides.
Stick was forced to make three changes to his match-day squad for the clash after Oupa Mohoje (utility forward) tested positive for COVID-19, although he is asymptomatic, and as a precautionary measure Trevor Nyakane (prop) was withdrawn from the squad after being in close contact with his former Toyota Cheetahs team-mate.
Furthermore, former Junior Springbok utility back Mnombo Zwelendaba was ruled out due to a hip injury.
As a result, three young guns have been called into the Springbok Gold team – Kwenzo Blose (prop), Kade Wolhuter (flyhalf) and JJ van der Mescht (lock). All three players have been named on the bench.
Stick was excited about his team, despite the enforced changes: “We have a good balance in our team if you look at the mix between the youngsters and senior players,” he said.
“We have the likes of Siya Kolisi, Duane (Vermeulen), Elton (Jantjies) and Frans (Steyn) that were with us at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, while we worked with some of the youngsters at a junior level, and it is great to give them a taste of a Test week.”
Davids was equally pleased with his team’s preparations: “The week has gone very well so far, with good enthusiasm at training and a great eagerness to learn and to absorb what is happening in this special environment,” he said.
“We will see a fascinating battle between two interesting and exciting team combinations, each one consisting of experienced RWC winning Springboks, established franchise players, some Blitzboks and some really good youngsters coming through the ranks.”
Stick, who admitted it was great to see the domestic players back in action after the country was forced into lockdown six months ago, expected an entertaining clash and said they were excited to see what the players would dish up on Saturday.
“We would like to give the players the freedom to express themselves, and to showcase their talent and bring that X-factor,” said Stick.
“If you look at the likes of Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, they use their chances one-on-one, and we would like to give these young players the opportunity to do that. With the experienced players around them, I think it will be a good match.
“The game might open up in the later stages, but we are going to respect this match. The Gold team also has quality players, so we will try to play a well-balanced game, and if it opens up, we will look to take our opportunities.”
Davids said with the DHL Stormers relocating to the Cape Town Stadium next year, it would be a special occasion for the Cape-based players in both squads.
“We have a number of DHL Stormers players in our ranks for whom this match will be a very special occasion, playing on the beautiful field of the famous DHL Newlands stadium,” said Davids.
Am, meanwhile, kicked off the banter between the teams in the build-up to the match saying: “I’m not letting any secrets out the bag, but we have surprises in store for the Green squad.”
Springbok Green: 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Embrose Papier, 23 Manie Libbok, 24 Jeremy Ward, 25 Kade Wolhuter.
Springbok Gold: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 James Venter, 21 Vincent Tshituka, 22 Ivan van Zyl, 23 Curwin Bosch, 24 Werner Kok, 25 Manuel Rass.